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Niger Coup: ECOWAS threatens force, border closures, assets freeze and no-fly zone on  commercial flights  

The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, responded to the coup in the Niger Republic demanding full restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Niger, urging that if the demands are not met in a week, they would threaten the use of force. 

ECOWAS also declared immediate sanctions on Niger including the closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Niger, establishing a no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger, and suspending all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Niger. 

This was disclosed in a statement on Sunday after the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government met on Sunday in Abuja. 

Immediate release 

In a statement titled “ ECOWAS imposes sanctions on Niger Junta” the group called for the immediate release and reinstatement of President Mohamed Bazoum as the legitimate Head of State and Government of the Republic of Niger. 

This was revealed in a communiqué released at the end of the Extraordinary Summit on Socio-Political Situation in the Republic of Niger read by the President, of ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray. 

The leaders also rejected any form of purported resignation by President Bazoum and declared him as the only recognised and elected President by ECOWAS, the African Union and the international community, the statement read: 

  • ‘‘In this regard, only official acts of President Bazoum or his duly-mandated officials will be recognized by ECOWAS,’’  
  • “The leaders expressed strong condemnation of the attempted overthrow of constitutional order in Niger, and the illegal detention of President Bazoum, as well as members of his family and government. 

ECOWAS Demands

They demanded the full restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Niger and considered the illegal detention of President Mohamed Bazoum as a hostage situation. 

In the event, ECOWAS’ demands are not met within one week, the leaders said they would take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger. 

  • “Such measures may include the use of force for this effect, the Chiefs of Defence staff of ECOWAS are to meet immediately,’’  

ECOWAS leaders also condemned the pronouncement of support by foreign governments and foreign private military contractors, while expressing appreciation to various governments and partners for their stance and solidarity. 

 Sanctions 

ECOWAS announced immediate sanctions on Niger including the closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Niger, establishing a no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger, and suspending all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Niger, adding: 

  • “Assets of the Republic of Niger in ECOWAS Central Bank, Niger state enterprises, and parastatals in commercial banks will be frozen. 
  • “Niger will also be suspended from all financial assistance and transactions with financial institutions within ECOWAS. 
  • “Travel bans and assets freezes were imposed on the military officials involved in the coup attempt, as well as their family members and civilians who accept to participate in any institution or government established by these military officials. 

President Tinubu thanked fellow leaders, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office in West Africa and the Sahel, Leonardo Santos Simaõ, for their active engagement and invaluable contributions to the discussions, adding: 

  • ‘‘The essence of African unity and solidarity is hereby reaffirmed. Our unwavering commitment to democracy, peace and prosperity is hereby resolved. 
  • ‘‘As African leaders, it is our shared responsibility to foster stability and progress, placing the wellbeing of our people at the forefront of our endeavours, and working together towards their prosperity and happiness must always consistently, be our goals and consistently. 

Junta’s warnings 

On Saturday, Niger’s military leaders warned against any armed intervention in the country before West African leaders gathered in Nigeria’s capital on Sunday for an emergency summit to decide on further actions to pressure the army to restore constitutional order. 

The military leaders in Niger on Saturday night, warned in a statement read on Niger national television on Saturday night against any military intervention. 

  • “The objective of the (ECOWAS) meeting is to approve a plan of aggression against Niger through an imminent military intervention in Niamey in collaboration with other African countries that are non-members of ECOWAS, and certain Western countries,” junta spokesman Col. Amadou Abdramane said. 
  • “We want to once more remind ECOWAS or any other adventurer, of our firm determination to defend our homeland,”  

The junta issued a second statement on Saturday night urging citizens in the capital to take to the streets from 7 a.m. local time (0600 GMT) to protest against ECOWAS and show support for the new military leaders.